Marine Corps Issues a Two-Day Stand-Down for All Aviation Units After F-35 Mishap

In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, a U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II aircraft assigned to the 34th Fighter Squadron, departs from a KC-10 Extender aircraft after receiving fuel over Poland, on Feb. 24, 2022, as it flies in support of North Atlantic Treaty Organization enhanced air …
Senior Airman Joseph Barron/U.S. Air Force via AP

Marine Corps Commandant Eric Smith on Monday issued a two-day aviation stand-down for all Marine aviation units inside and outside the United States after an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet went missing the day before.

According to a Marine Corps statement:

Following three Class-A aviation mishaps over the last six weeks, Acting Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Eric M. Smith, directed all Marine Corps aviation units to conduct a two-day pause in operations this week to discuss aviation safety matters and best practices.

During the safety stand down, aviation commanders will lead discussions with their Marines focusing on the fundamentals of safe flight operations, ground safety, maintenance and flight procedures, and maintaining combat readiness.  This stand down being taken to ensure the service is maintaining operational standardization of combat-ready aircraft with well-prepared pilots and crews.

This pause invests time and energy in reinforcing the Marine aviation community’s established policies, practices and procedures in the interests of public safety, protecting our Marines and sailors, and ensuring the Marine Corps remains a ready and highly-trained fighting force.

In the incident on Sunday, a pilot ejected from the fighter jet over South Carolina and is in stable condition, but the location of the aircraft remains unknown.

Military officials beginning Sunday asked for the public to help locate the missing plane.

Joint Base Charleston said on Monday that it was cooperating with Marine Corps Air Station Beauford, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Navy Region Southeast, the FAA, and the Civil Air Patrol, as well as local, county, and state law enforcement across South Carolina.

“Teams continue to search for the U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II, using both ground and air assets. We appreciate the support we’ve received from our mission partners and every organization involved, as integrated teams are searching and preparing for the recovery of the jet,” the base said in a statement.

The F-35B is the Marine Corps variant of the aircraft.

The aircraft costs an estimated $80 million dollars. The F-35 program is the most expensive Department of Defense weapons program to date, and is expected to cost $1.7 trillion over its lifespan, according to the Government Accountability Office.

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